GayleHatch - "Truth, Justice and the American Way"
Southeast News by: Dave Mormanm
Gayle Hatch doesn't claim to be Superman, but in following the creed of "Truth, Justice and the American Way "Hatch has soared to heights that would be the envy of any action hero. From his humble start in Oklahoma, through his athletic careers at Catholic High and Northwestern State, and now as he has reached the zenith of his weightlifting profession. Hatch has remained steadfast in adhering to such a philosophy.
If it meant bucking the powers that be to remove steroids from the sport, then so be it. Hatch did just that in helping to advance state and national legislation that has since banned the substance and dramatically reduced its illegal use. Hatch, even at 66, continues to wage the fight internationally.
Why is it that Hatch has remained so adamant in his bid to curb steroid use in the face of apparent apathy for others, including those in major league baseball now wrestling with that very problem. "It's really simple if you can count to two, " he said. "No. 1, it's cheating. No. 2 it's a risk to you health." When Hatch's lifters perform you get a true indication of their worth. There is nothing but hard work and dedication behind the numbers that they post. As for justice, if there were more of it, Hatch's lifters in the 2004 Olympics might have finished better that seventh and tenth.
Considering that Shane Hamman and Oscar Chaplin competed against lifters Hatch alleged to have used steroids to train. Hatch was more than pleased with the results. Both recorded personal bests, and Hamman registered two American records. "We weren't expected to put anybody in the top 10", Hatch said. "To get two in the top 10 is quite an accomplishment."
Of course, as far back as most anybody can remember. Hatch has been responsible for feats far above the norm. His deeds in football, basketball and track landed him in the halls of fame at both Catholic High and Northwestern. He's a member of the American Indian Athletic Hall of Fame, given that he's three eighths Delaware Indian and rightfully proud of his heritage. He belongs both to the U.S. Weightlifting and Strength and Conditioning halls of fame.
Two of his proteges, Johnny Long and Tommy Moffitt, serve as strength and conditioning coaches at Tennessee and LSU respectively and implemented Hatch's system at Tennessee, Miami and LSU. All three have since won national football championships, thanks in large measure to the Hatch method that melds Olympic and power lifting into endurance and strength. Tennessee and LSU will face each other September 24 in Tiger Stadium with either Long or Moffitt to walk away with the "Hatch Cup" awarded by their mentor.
For all that, Hatch's crowning achievement may have been his selection as the U.S. Olympic weightlifting head coach last summer. It brought national and international acclaim to Hatch, who has long been recognized for his ability both locally and statewide. For the past quarter century, Hatch's training center at the Spectrum on Monterrey Boulevard has produced success stories in every sport. From Calandro and Brian, to football's Warrick Dunn and basketball's Brandon Bass, Hatch has turned dreams into reality, as they did for Hatch in his Olympic glory.
"You can't really explain the feeling you have entering the stadium marching with the USA Team," said Hatch, who made his way into Olympic Stadium in Athens, Greece. "When you get in the middle of the field, and they light the torch, chills go down your spine. You think about so many things. You think about your parents, your wife, your kids, the people you've trained. Hatch has so many pleasant memories of the athletes he has trained including his first two Olympians, Tommy Calandro and Bret Brian.
In fact, Calandro and Brian were party to a tribute Hatch still claims is the most significant of all the awards that have come his way. At a banquet years ago, Calandro and Brian presented Hatch with the blazers they wore in their combined three Olympics. "I can't think of a better honor for a coach to receive," Hatch said. And to be sure, Hatch has received a host of them. One of the more "mind-boggling," as Hatch termed it, is the fact that his Olympic uniform is now housed in the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C.
It was only back in May at the Delaware Pow-Wow in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, that Chief Joe Brooks of the Delaware Indian Tribe bestowed his name of Cheet-tah-nee-naw upon Hatch. Translated into English it means, "He who is strong."
Hatch is that and more. Not only has he been blessed physically, but he has displayed an inner strength that has prompted results others might not even have imagined. He was largely responsible for getting Jim Thorpe onto the cover of the Wheaties box. Similar devotion has shaped Matt Bruce, 21, into Hatch's latest rising star. Such results provide the fuel for Hatch, as he forges ahead with the same vigor that has characterized his All-American success. "The future for me," he said, "is to show up tomorrow at the training center and work to continue to develop talent."